28 July 2016Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (vv. 14-16)
Psalm: Psalm 121
My daughter once had a job as a secret shopper. The idea was that she went to shops, assessed the quality and care of the service there on behalf of her employers and then left without having her cover blown. In today's passage Jesus suggests that there may be something called the secret believer: a person who has the light of Christ living within them, but hides it away so no one else can see it. "How ridiculous it would be," Jesus seems to suggest, "if you were to light a lamp and then hide it away so that the light was not shared." And yet, by implication, Jesus is saying that too many of his followers, are doing just that with the light of the good news. Lights are lit in order to be seen and not be hidden away. Light illuminates dark places; perhaps the light of God in the lives of people should light up the dark places in the world, shining a critical light on injustice and inequality. Light directs: even a tiny torch light can show the way: perhaps the light of God in the lives of God's own people could light the path to fullness of life or restored hope or acceptance or forgiveness. Light welcomes: there is nothing like coming home at the end of a busy day and seeing the welcoming light from within the home. Perhaps the light of God in the lives of people could shine a welcoming light to those who feel isolated or forgotten.
Yes, of course, in some parts of the world our sisters and brothers face such terrible peril that to be a 'secret believer' is the only way to live for now, but for most of us, that is simply not the case. When God's light shines from the lives of people there is something attractive and vital about it. People are drawn towards the light and so "give glory to [our] Father in heaven".
- Unlike some world faiths, it is not always possible to recognise a follower of Jesus Christ by their external appearance. What is there in your life that means people will know of your faith?
- Reflecting on your personal experiences, how good is the Christian Church and your local fellowship at displaying a welcoming light to others?
- What 'warning' lights should the Church in this country be shining?